I have recently read with fascination about Curzon’s upbringing. It struck me that, while I knew much of Curzon’s political and diplomatic career, I knew little of his early life.
Curzon’s father was Reverend Alfred Curzon, the 4th Baron Scarsdale and Rector of Kedleston in Derbyshire. He was the son of a man with the same name, Reverend Alfred Curzon, who died when he was young, as did his only sibling and brother, George Nathaniel Curzon, in 1855. His second child and first son was born in 1859 and he named him after his late brother. Alfred’s wife Blanche produced eleven children and died from maternal exhaustian when George Curzon was only sixteen. She was survived by her husband by 41 years.
Lord George Nathaniel Curzon traveled for more than a decade extensively during his political career, including Russia and Central Asia, Afghanistan, Siam, French Indochina, Korea and beyond. He then went on to serve as Viceroy of India, and ended his career as Foreign Secretary, and to this day maintains the reputation for being the most travelled man who ever sat in a British cabinet.
With a background like this, did Curzon have some sort of intrepid traveler or adventurer of a father? (It’s perhaps worth noting that Robert D. Kaplan got his love of travel from his father, a truck driver, who he described as “a sort of a hobo and racetrack tout, traveling throughout the lower 48 states of America. He was probably at every race course in the lower 48 states during the 1930s.”)
Far from it. Alfred Curzon was an austere aristocratic landlowner who could trace family ownership of his estate back to the 12th century and who came from a long line of Norman landowners. He believed that it was the family responsibility to stay on their land and not go roaming about all over the world, and he had little sympathy for the travels of his eldest son. This is despite seeing his son build on his travels to an important political career serving in India.